Wal-Mart to open up to 110 new stores in China

BEIJING - OCTOBER 14: Chinese vendors sell goods outside Beijing's first Wal-Mart supercenter October 14, 2006 in Beijing, China. Wal-Mart workers in China have set up unions at all 62 Chinese outlets in what a senior Chinese trade union official described on October 12th as a breakthrough for organized labor. (Photo by Cancan Chu/Getty Images) Cancan Chu

NEW YORK Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) plans to open up to 110 new stores in China in the next three years while the world's largest retailer seeks to make the business there more profitable.

Wal-Mart says it will focus on developing supercenters and Sam's Clubs while remodeling existing stores.

As Wal-Mart expands in China, it's also closing underperforming stores there. Last week, Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Ark., announced that it would close 20 to 25 stores in the fourth quarter and into the first quarter in China.

The changes come as Wal-Mart sees a slowdown in Chinese economic growth as well as a shift among shoppers to online buying.

"In 2013, the retail industry faced challenges and strong competition, but Wal-Mart's confidence in the Chinese market has never been stronger," Greg Foran, Wal-Mart China president and CEO, said in a statement. "We adapt to market changes by making adjustments and innovations, and we will modify our operations in China by upgrading the merchandise well, especially in fresh food and grocery."

Foran said the company aims to improve operations and customer experience and improve food-safety practices while eliminating unnecessary costs.

Last year, Wal-Mart announced the completion of its increased investment in a fast-growing Chinese online company called Yihaodian. Wal-Mart now has a stake of about 51 percent in Yihaodian.

Wal-Mart operates about 400 stores in the country. It entered the Chinese market in Shenzhen in 1996.

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